Parking lot accidents happen all the time, especially in winter when the roads are slippery, and there is less visibility. With piles of snow compacting available space, there is an even greater likelihood of a minor accident in a parking lot. Just because you are in a private parking lot does not mean traffic rules do not apply, and parking lot accidents are treated much the same as any other type of accident. Here’s the rundown on how parking lot accidents work in Ontario.

What are the Ontario Laws and Insurance Rules for Parking Lots?

Ontario has several laws and rules pertaining to parking lots. Some are specific to private parking lots, while others are in effect everywhere.

  • All traffic signs within the parking lot must be obeyed.
  • The main lane (usually the one which enters and exits the lot) has the right of way over secondary lanes.
  • If you are pulling out of a parking spot, you do not have the right of way.
  • Never drive intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
  • Observe all cases in which a parking lot accident must be reported.
  • Leaving the scene of a parking lot accident without giving your personal information is a criminal offence and can lead to charges.

What are the Most Common Types of Parking Lot Accidents?

There are many types of parking lot accidents that can occur. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • A vehicle hits a pedestrian or cyclist.
  • A moving vehicle hits a stationary vehicle. This is one of the most common types of parking lot accidents.
  • A vehicle hits a stationary object. This can be anything – a light post, a traffic sign, even a shopping cart. If you hit a stationary object, you are always 100% at fault.
  • Two vehicles that are backing up at the same time hit each other. Typically, the two drivers will share the fault.
  • Two cars that are competing for the same spot collide. Typically, the two drivers will share the fault.
  • A vehicle rear-ends another vehicle at a stop sign. This most often happens on ramps leading in and out of parkades. In most cases, the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle will be at fault.

Do You Have to Report a Parking Lot Accident?

It is always a good idea to report a parking lot accident. There are three situations in which it is required by law to report the accident to the police:

  1. Someone has been injured in the accident.
  2. There is $2,000 or more of damage to vehicles or property.
  3. The accident involved drugs or alcohol.

Be aware that most insurance companies require to be notified of the accident. If you choose not to report your accident to your insurance company and the other driver does, your insurance company will still adjust your rates , if you are deemed at fault. Even if you plan to pay for damages out of pocket.

Who is at Fault in a Parking Lot Accident?

The most common myth associated with parking lot accidents is that if a parking lot accident involving two vehicles occurs, then both drivers are equally at fault. This is known as the 50/50 rule, which is 100% not true. Rather, fault for parking lot accidents is determined case by case, i.e. rules of the road.

Because parking lots have their own rules for who has the right of way, accidents that occur in a parking lot are treated the same way as accidents that occur on the road. In some cases, one driver may be entirely at fault, while the drivers may share the fault in other cases. If the two drivers cannot determine who is at fault, then the police and/or insurance company will use fault determination rules to help figure out who is responsible for any damages.

What To Do After a Parking Lot Accident

The procedure for a parking lot accident is much the same as any other type of traffic accident:

  1. Don’t panic. Take a moment to make sure you are ok and calm your nerves. Stay at the scene of the accident.
  2. Check whether anyone was injured and call emergency services if necessary.
  3. Move your vehicle out of the way if you can do so.
  4. Exchange your personal information with the other driver. This will include names and contact information, driver’s license numbers, insurance companies and policy numbers, and license plate numbers. If you hit a parked vehicle, leave a note with your personal information.
  5. Take pictures of both vehicles that show any damage caused by the accident.
  6. Arrange for a tow truck if you cannot drive your vehicle.
  7. Notify your insurance company of the accident. If the damages exceed $2,000, you must also go to the closest police station to file an accident report within 24 hours.

Regardless of how safe a driver you are, there is always a chance of getting into a parking lot accident. Let Keller & Associates Insurance Brokers take care of your auto insurance needs so that you can have peace of mind knowing that you are covered in case of an accident.